Authorities in the Japanese city of Yokohama (pictured) said on Tuesday that they would conduct a fresh request-for-concept (RFC) phase in the community’s tilt at getting a casino resort. The new RFC phase began that day and will run until the end of November.
According to local media reports, the impact of Covid-19 on planning for what is known in Japan as an integrated resort (IR), and on business projections regarding the profitability of running one, have been factors in the fresh RFC effort.
GGRAsia’s Japan correspondent said that Yokohama confirmed seven existing resort operators had made submissions in the original RFC phase, which ran until late December last year. Only those would be invited to submit fresh proposals for the new RFC phase.
They were: Wynn Resorts Ltd, Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd, Genting Singapore Ltd, Shotoku Corp, Sega Sammy Holdings Inc, Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd, and Las Vegas Sands Corp.
Las Vegas Sands subsequently announced that they would not for now be pursuing a Japan casino opportunity.
Wynn Resorts announced in August it was “pretty much ceasing” its efforts in Japan regarding pursuit of a casino project there, at least until there were meaningful developments regarding that market. It had emerged in early August that the United States-based group – parent of Macau operator Wynn Macau Ltd – had already closed its office in the city of Yokohama.
As recently as December, Wynn Resorts had announced a “Yokohama focus” in its campaign to participate in a Japan casino licence, and launched an office there on December 15 for a unit called Wynn Resorts Development Japan.
Earlier this month, Japan’s national government said it planned to start accepting proposals for IRs from October 2021. The proposed closing date for such submissions – to be made by local governments – would be April 28, 2022. That is a delay of at least nine months in the process to introduce casino resorts in Japan, a decision the national government attributed to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.
It had previously been mentioned in commentary by the central authorities that local governments – with a selected private-sector partner – would be expected to apply in the first half of 2021 to the national government for the right to host a casino resort.
A total of three casino resorts will be permitted nationally in a first phase of liberalisation. The policy has been presented as a form of stimulus for regional economies, in terms of drawing in tourists from overseas.
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